Join Whitewater's Best at Gauley Fest

As the season for one of the top 10 whitewater rivers worldwide begins, boaters and industry leaders from around the globe are heading to West Virginia.
Gauley festivalTheir meeting place? Gauley Fest.
The Gauley is alluring to professionals not only because it is considered a world-class run, it’s also infamous. The challenging and unique “Big 5” rapids on the legendary Upper Gauley help create a versatile run like no other.
With a whitewater race, top-quality gear for sale, raffles, vendors and plenty of camaraderie, all right in the backyard of this amazing recreational river, Gauley Fest on Sept. 19-20 has something for everyone to enjoy.
Here’s what to get into at Gauley Fest:

For Pros:

First of all, GAULEY. The festival is in the New River Gorge, just a quick trip from the banks of a formidable challenge. Are you ready to take it on? To put one of the world’s best runs under your spray skirt? ‘Cause it’s only roaring 22 days a year.
And if you’re really out to impress, stick around until Monday after the festival for the Animal Gauley River Race.
Professionals including Olympic paddlers and competitive boaters will take on the Upper alongside amateurs and boaters of all sorts brave enough to join. The race finish line lies just over the 10-foot waterfall, Sweet’s Falls.

For all Boaters:

This is the place to get expert advice on everything from technique to choosing the best gear. Many competitive kayakers, gear specialists and decades-long recreational boaters are all in one place, eager to talk about their craft.
This is also your best bet at finding discounts on the best gear you can buy. All the industry leaders come year after year, raffling off free kayaks, gear and prizes. Much of the gear for sale is discounted for the event. There’s also a silent auction with memorabilia, memberships, and gear packages to bid on.
Boaters also sell their used boats, and there are usually tons on display, locked up on the entry fence with price and a phone number for the seller (who is probably inside enjoying the festival). You can look through tons of boats (sometimes pro quality for as little as a few hundred dollars), test the fit, and take it out to the water that day.

For non-boaters:

Gauley Fest is a fun peek into whitewater culture, and there are plenty of fun things to enjoy if you aren’t a paddler yourself.
Adventure gear from all kinds of outdoor pursuits are also for sale in the marketplace. And even if you aren’t that outdoorsy, you can still find interesting crafts, attire and wares from local and river-friendly vendors. There are also tons and tons of giveaways.
And there’s music to enjoy. Reggae-rap-rockers Shrub and the energetic Americana rockers Kalob Griffin Band will be providing live music throughout the event.
Go ahead and stay and camp out. Stay the stories, just to listen to the veteran boaters’ crazy tales of wild whitewater and raging rapids.

Bonus for Everyone:

The event gives back to the recreational community, with proceeds going to American Whitewater to support river conservation and access. 
What are you going to do at Gauley Fest?